Illegal Immigration Foes See Opportunity After Wilson’s Outburst

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 6:00 am
Signs at Tuesday's Feet to the Fire event (Photo by David Weigel)

Signs at Tuesday's Hold Their Feet to the Fire event (Photo by David Weigel)

This is the second year Alex Segura has trekked from Utah to Washington to lobby for stricter immigration laws. It isn’t getting easier with practice.

“It’s worse than ever,” Segura told TWI. He was in the Phoenix Park Hotel, across from Union Station and a short walk from Capitol Hill, where he and around 200 other allies of the Federation for American Immigration Reform were about to go meet with their senators and members of Congress. “You’ll collar one of them at a Tea Party — that’s how I got to [Sen.] Orrin Hatch [R-Utah] — and they’ll tell you they agree with you. Then they get back here and do a 180.”

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Segura had won some real victories last year. The Utah branch of the Minutemen Project, which he founded, hit the pavement to campaign against Chris Cannon, a congressman from one of the nation’s safest Republican districts who bucked his party leadership and often opposed strict measures against undocumented immigrants. Cannon was ousted by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a telegenic, Twitter-crazed conservative who hasn’t satisfied Segura at all: “He hasn’t done anything on immigration.”

For fourteen years, FAIR has sponsored a mass lobbying campaign they call Hold Their Feet to the Fire. According to FAIR spokesman Ira Mehlman , this year’s event, coming days after the 9/12 “taxpayer march on Washington,” was the biggest yet, and several participants interviewed by TWI had come for the march and stayed in town to lobby Congress. For no fee, activists could walk the narrow rooms and halls of the hotel and meet local talk show hosts stationed at “radio rows.” Boston’s Howie Carr and San Diego’s Rodger Hedgecock held court; CNN’s Lou Dobbs appeared at 3 p.m. to host his radio show, shaking hands and posing for photos at every station break.

This year’s campaign came at a precipitous time. According to the immigration restrictionists at Hold Their Feet to the Fire, the battle to stop illegal immigrants from wrecking America’s health care system had been joined again. Many credited Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) outburst during President Obama’s speech before Congress last week with focusing the country’s attention on illegal immigration, in preparation for what they expected to come in 2010 — the third full-out battle over immigration reform in the last five years.

“Joe Wilson got a lot of people talking about the health care legislation in the context of illegal immigration,” Dobbs told TWI after smiling for a snapshot with Bill Landes, a Florida activist wearing a Minuteman Project button. “I think he deserves great credit. There hasn’t been a backlash — quite the opposite.”

On the Hill, where Democrats were readying to vote on a resolution condemning Wilson, which ultimately passed, this was greeted as a fantasy. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a freshman from a safe blue district with a sizable Hispanic population, appeared at a prayer vigil organized by pro-immigration groups and blasted FAIR as an “obscure and extreme.”

“The people who are lobbying here today make no distinction between documented and undocumented,” said Polis, who said he became aware of FAIR thanks to the “bizarre” faxes they sent to his office. “This is about bigotry on one side and humanity on the other.” After the vigil, Polis told TWI that Wilson’s outburst had caused a “backlash,” and “provided momentum for comprehensive immigration reform” as well as making Democrats’ work a little easier on health care.

Not surprisingly, the politicians at the Phoenix Park Hotel disagreed. “Wilson said what was on the mind of a lot of Americans,” said Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazelton, Pa., who won national fame for tough laws he passed penalizing undocumented immigrants for using city services. “The procedures, the decorum — I understand. But he brought this issue to the point where they needed to address it, because it wasn’t being addressed. We have to talk about the fraud and abuse in this system. I mean, we arrest people with four or five fraudulent Social Security cards.”

Barletta, who narrowly lost a bid for Congress last year (“President Obama carried the district by 15 points, and I lost by three”), said that he campaigned against universal health care then by asking voters what would happen if potential border-crossers knew they could get free health care in the United States. “It’s obvious what would happen,” said Barletta. “It would be a total breakdown of our health care system — and not only our health care system, it would break down every other system.”

Current Republican members of Congress talked about the immigration issue the same way. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told TWI that current laws made it impossible for hospitals to deny emergency care to illegal immigrants, and current interpretation of the 14th amendment, which granted citizenship to babies born in the United States, opened the door to coverage of illegal immigrants in any “government takeover” of health care.

“My solution,” said Gohmert, “is that once they have gotten the free treatment, if they are here illegally, then they will be deported. It is a matter of national security that we not allow anyone to bankrupt this country.”

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), who stopped by FAIR’s event to do radio interviews, disagreed with Gohmert’s idea. “I don’t think we should deport people,” said Culberson, “but we should follow the law and verify their citizenship status.”

Culberson brushed aside the suggestion that a new focus on immigration as a wedge in the health care debate would backfire on Republicans. But some activists who’d traveled to D.C. for 9/12 rallies and in-person lobbying felt that Republican worries about the politics of immigration would prevent them from doing anything about it at all.

“They think it’s a toxic issue,” said Julie Dunston, a Florida activist who also attended FAIR’s event in 2008. “When they hear you’re asking about immigration, they freeze up.”

“You look at them and you notice they’re not taking notes,” grumbled Sivert Wallstrom, a fellow activist from Florida. “You’ve got pregnant women who walk over the border, and 24 hours later they have babies who become American citizens.”

One candidate hoping to score an upset victory for immigration restriction didn’t think immigration would play any larger a role in the health care debate than it had played so far. “The health care bill will pass or fail before I get to the Senate,” said Chris Simcox , the co-founder of the Minutemen Civil Defense Force, who is challenging Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in next year’s Arizona Republican primary. “The problems, the fraud, all of those are already present in Medicare and Medicaid, and that’s what I talk about.”

As the first full day of lobbying closed — there would be more tomorrow — activists made evening plans and decided whether or not to attend the “We The People Immigration Reform Awards,” held at the U.S. Postal Museum across the street. “The People’s VOICE” award would go to Glenn Beck.

“The ‘We the People Awards’ celebrates those whose efforts have demonstrated exceptional service to the immigration reform movement,” read FAIR’s listing for the honors. “We applaud their dedication and commitment through leadership and representation.”

Beck didn’t attend the dinner, appearing instead via a pre-recorded message in which he thanked the activists and joked that he had to get back to “scaring the crap out of Americans.” It was left to Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to praise Wilson.

“It looks like the Senate is going to fix the language in the health care bill,” said King, “to require proof of citizenship… amnesty in the health care bill has gone down because of who? Joe Wilson!”

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Posts about Texas Tea Parties as of September 16, 2009 | Texas Tea Parties
Pingback posted September 16, 2009 @ 10:47 am

[...] district that places the greatest misplaced emphasis on deeply flawed standardized testing. Illegal Immigration Foes See Opportunity After Wilson’s Outburst – 09/16/2009 Signs at Tuesday’s Hold Their Feet to the Fire [...]

The Washington Independent » Illegal Immigration Foes See … « Immigration
Pingback posted September 16, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

[...] M­o­re­: The­ Washing­to­n Inde­pe­nde­nt » Ille­g­al Im­m&#173… [...]

Comment posted September 16, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

I am impressed that one wing of the party would require proof of citizenship for health care, while another wing cannot accept proof of citizenship for the President. It was the Queen of Hearts that said “Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Any guesses which of these people will become the Queen?

Comment posted September 16, 2009 @ 8:22 pm

Disgust is the word. Illegal immigrants(wanton disrespect for our immigration laws) endanger and elude our border patrol agents. Roll out the “red carpet” as a reward for succeeding. Quick pregnancy..American child…all kinds of benefits for poor American child…work harder American citizens your tax dollars are needed. What about the hard working American citizen who is taxed and cannot get benefits beause he earns too much. America is a land of opportunity like no other can be what you want to be. Hard work is the answer. Our oncoming policies will greatly increase the rob Peter to pay Paul concept. Send illegals back to their country..enough is enough…Senior citizens spending lifetime savings on medicine while illegal's child's is free.

Comment posted September 16, 2009 @ 8:33 pm

Good for Joe Wilson……he spoke for the many many Americans who can not get their voicd out
there and their elected officials who will not address the or ignore the immigration problem in this
country today. Something has to be done about this problem and I think we should, as
Americans get a vote on the immigration issue in this country. It is our money paying for all
of the free health care, welfate and everything else they receive.

Comment posted September 16, 2009 @ 9:03 pm

I'm not sure I understand. Section 246. of the proposed health care bill states: “No federal payment for undocumented aliens. Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”
Please don't take my word for it – go to the Library of Congress:….
Since this was in the bill before the Honorable Joe Wilson spoke for you, what exactly were the two of you saying?

Comment posted September 16, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

The Great Usurper Obama/Soetoro is the most notorious of all illegal-immigrants. He was either born in Kenya, or Hawaii as a Brit before he became an Indonesian. The media is asleep at the wheel ignoring this issue which will not die until the truth finally comes out. Must be some CIA thing.

Comment posted September 16, 2009 @ 11:55 pm

The biggest issues with mass immigration–legal, or otherwise–are urban sprawl, farmland and wild habitat loss, and stress on freshwater supplies.

There is no politically-correct way around this: immigration is the sole cause of the urban sprawl that 'green' Democrats proport to hate. Europe's bulging immigrant suburbs, mostly filled with third world 'temporary workers' (who are neither there temporarilly, nor working) are much like America's gang-ridden Latin ghettos. The reason that Democrats, like the British Labour and Canadian/Australian Liberal parties, favor mass immigration is that it keeps the construction and real estate sectors going. More warm bodies justify more housing developments, along with associated infrastructure (roads, schools).

If people really care about the environment, they'll fight mass immigration-fuelled urban sprawl. The developed world can't be a safety valve for third worlders with irresponsibly-high birthrates, escaping the corrupt, overpopulated and crime-ridden sewers of their homelands. Neither should American citizens suffer loss of farmland, environmental destruction, densification, enforced bilingualism, high food prices, high taxes and Latin American gang violence, so that the real estate and construction industries can keep their real estate bubble permanently inflated.

Comment posted September 17, 2009 @ 10:59 am

Just who do these illegal aliens think they are? Yes, who? Who do these activists groups think they are? Yes, who?

Illegal aliens have made America the dumping ground for all their illegal alien children, then we have to school them and give them free medical care.

I for one, am sick and tired of these ILLEGAL ALIENS snubbing their nose at our immigration laws and the many other laws of this Country. If our Federal Government can not ENFORCE our immigration laws, and get these ILLEGAL ALIENS out of this Country, then let the States do it! One way or another, an end has to come to this illegal immigration, and not with AMNESTY! Amnesty will only encourage more ILLEGAL ALIENS to invade our Country and reward those who broke our laws and raped the American taxpayer in many ways…depressing our wages, taking our jobs, overwhelming our schools with their ILLEGAL ALIEN children, driving without a license or car insurance, all the crime from stolen identities to rape, drugs and everything else.

It's time for ZERO TOLERENCE with these ILLEGAL ALIENS. It's time for them get out of this Country and back in their own Country where they belong. When we get rid of the ILLEGAL ALIENS, we will get rid of all the problems that go with them. THAT IS A FACT!

Comment posted September 17, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

Racist scum, but what can we expect from conservative republicans?! More playing to the lowest common denominator in America. Pathetic!

Comment posted September 17, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

Its time to re-examine instant citizenship (Anchor babies) which hasn't been illuminated enough, to growing concern of the American public. For decades now pregnant women have arrived on tourist’s visas, through the fence and even at ports of call. Very aware of our mis-interpreted law governing “birthright citizenship”, that attributes full rights to the Mother of an illegal immigrant. How can Americans benefit from this Health care reform package, when we must subsidize millions of households and not just the original interloper? Outlined in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is an article that will stun a prudent person. An illegal alien entered the states in 1997 to work as a fruit picker, bringing with him his wife and three children; all illegal aliens.

The lady gave birth to a fourth child, and with that birth the family had an “anchor baby”—an American citizen by birth, who provided the entire family with a free pass to remain in the United States permanently and collect government, subsides. Unfortunately the baby was born prematurely, spent three months in the neonatal incubator, and cost the San Joaquin Hospital more than $300,000. Meanwhile, the oldest daughter married an illegal alien and gave birth to her own anchor baby, and then Cristobal’s wife gave birth to yet another baby. ALL PAID FOR BY—YOU!

This is just one taxpayer example of the 'Rule of law' that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars. A nurse admitted last weekend, according to Review-Journal reported that cash-strapped UMC hospital in Nevada is providing more than $20 million a year in emergency dialysis care for uninsured, illegal immigrants. Is American society insane when poverty stricken Americans are turned away, go bankrupt and sometimes die? TAXPAYERS ARE TAXED FOR THIS, BUT NOT FOR OUR OWN PEOPLE? We must insist that a Birthright Citizenship lawsuit be filed with the federal court and its original intent revisited? That E-Verify should be fully funded and a highly skilled MIT team, building on the original Immigration enforcement database to a highest level of security that cannot be compromised by the use of fraudulent documents.

The PC oriented application must be installed permanently on every business computer across this country? ICE should have the manpower to audit every workplace, with the power to arrest and detain employers who snub immigration laws? Repeat offenders should be dealt with harshly, including prison and confiscation of business assets. There should be no mitigating excuses because illegal immigrants are—STEALING JOBS– on any rung of the employment ladder? These employers for years have been an intended magnet for destitute labor in many cases, but have left the burden of paying for schooling for the children, health care and a veiled miscellaneous core of government handouts to US taxpayers. THIS IS NOT ABOUT RACISM, BUT AN ULTIMATE FINANCIAL MATTER OF SURVIVAL FOR US ALL!

Insist your politicians guarantee E-Verify is fully funded and is not scuttled by Sen. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Janet Napolitano or any other high ranking Democrats. The Washington switchboard has their number at 202-224-3121. Research these laws, true facts and incredulous stats at NUMBERSUSA & JUDICIAL WATCH

Comment posted September 20, 2009 @ 8:39 am

How do you expect mainstream Americans to take you seriously on illegals when you allow Birfers to hijack the issue? More to the point “…when an illegal child gets their healthcare free”: Utter fiction. “The illegals will cause a complete collapse of the healthcare system”: We're already there! If you are happy with your healthcare you are a privileged minority with your head in the clouds. From Repubs I hear a lot of wild speculation about what could be in the future, but no acknowledgement of how bad our system is now. In any event, illegals pose such a miniscule potential impact that some peoples' obsession with them is simply creepy.

Comment posted September 20, 2009 @ 9:05 am

Actually, my friend, the most powerful national lobbyist AGAINST the issue you are championing is not the Demo leadership, as you want to believe, but the Chamber of Commerce. If you can't get such a reliably Republican organization like that lined up with you on this issue then you can rail against Pelosi & Napolitano all you want- but you're missing the point. Some would say it is a very anti-capitalist notion which you are agitating for. Less immigrants may mean more jobs, but it will certainly mean economic turmoil in many sectors and higher prices for nearly everything. I would welcome the higher wages that illegals are unable to demand, but I am also capable of working out the other side of that equation. As for healthcare, I feel you are a tad disingenuous. The overall impact of illegals there is miniscule, so I am wondering if you have the same zeal for across the board health reform or if you just want to tack it onto your crusade?

Comment posted September 20, 2009 @ 9:16 am

The part about Beck admitting that his gig is essentially to “scare the crap out of Americans” is refreshingly candid, although it does reinforce my suspicion that he is just a cynical entertainer like Rush Limbaugh. It is funny/sad how parents can be so concerned about how influential their kids' celebrity role models can be on the children's behavior, yet oblivious to how equally they are impacted by the likes of the Fox News gang—-adversely so, in the event…

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 11:09 pm

The biggest 'contributor' to the economy, from illegals, is to serve to keep the real estate bubble endlessly inflated.

If immigration is frozen–and population growth halted–urban sprawl and all its attendant problems will end.

Comment posted September 21, 2009 @ 11:21 pm

Check this out:…

Comment posted September 23, 2009 @ 11:20 pm

Funny, but I know one of the key figures in the article, a man working to stop illegal immigration and he's a latino-American. This isn't about “race.” Illegal aliens come in lots of races, or hadn't you noticed that? Is Mexican a race or a nationality? Do you know the difference? Is Guatamalan a race or a nationalitiy? Do you know the difference, Kladinvt? Apparently you don't. You must think “American” is a “race” also, then. If Americans were invading Mexico by millions and living there as illegal aliens, would it be racist for Mexicans to want illegal alien Americans out of their country?

Comment posted September 24, 2009 @ 11:13 am

New 'jungle' for asylum seekers springs up on outskirts of Calais…

Comment posted September 24, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

Uh, your white sheets are showing!

Comment posted September 27, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

The need to secure the southern border is undeniable. In light of current security dilemmas based upon Islam’s desire to destroy America how could anyone oppose this? Or, consider the murderous drug trade at the border. The vast majority of illegal drugs enter the US via that border.

So, why does the Federal Government resist this effort? Money. The nefarious “Big Business” influence in Washington is real. Corporations “donate” $Billions every year to politicians “Reelection Campaign Funds” in order to control legislation. Large Corporations detest international borders and their restraints that interfere with making money.

Want to do a little research on this? Google “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPPNA).” Or, just SPP. If you tend to think that our current political structure has the average citizen’s best interests at heart read the .gov sites. Otherwise, explore it further and try applying logic to the Fed’s actions.

Comment posted September 27, 2009 @ 7:25 pm

Why? Simple–to keep the real estate bubble inflated. More warm bodies justifies more housing and associated infrastructure (roads, schools) and mortgages, &c. The only sectors of the economy, other than sweatshops, that need all these illegals are the banks, construction and development/real-estate industries. The 'liberal' parties (Democrats, Asussie and Canadian Liberals, British Labour Party) have close links to these industries, as does Dubya to the banks, hence their 'hug an illegal' platforms.

Environmental groups, who should be opposed to mass immigration (THE cause of greenspace-destroying, water-fouling urban sprawl is immigration-driven population growth) avoid the topic, due to a combination of political correctness (most immigrants are People of Color) and philanthropic payolla. The Sierra Club got nearly $100M, from David Gelbaum, on the condition that it shut up about overpopulation and immigration. Canada's David Suzuki Foundation won't touch the topic, either; it gets most of its funding from the big banks, BMO-Financial and CIBC, who've lobbied for nearly DOUBLING immigration rates.

The developed world can't sustain these rates of third world immigration, legal or otherwise. Not only are there issues with urban sprawl, loss of farmland and stress on freshwater supplies, but sociopolitical problems as well. No democracy has ever given its government a mandate to change the ethno-linguistic composition of society, yet this is what mass immigration is doing in the U.S., Canada and Britain. With these 'communities' also comes their criminal element. Nobody heard of MS-13 and the Mexican Mafia, until waves of Hispanic immigration brought it to the U.S. Nobody heard of Babbar Khalsa and The Tamil Tigers, until waves of South Asian immigration brought it to Canada. North Americans never heard of Doda, Khat, 'honor killings', or bride-burnings, until the third world came here. Now, Yale won't publish those Mohammed cartoons…this, soon after a Canadian magazine was hauled before a 'Human Rights Tribunal' in Alberta, for running them.

We don't 'need' third world immigration. What the third worlders need is birth control. Thanks to all the religious-right nuts and crazy lefty multiculturalists, nobody faces the fact that people in developing countries have too damned many kids. Their birthrates are beyond sustainable: thanks to mass vaccinations and water treatment, they're no longer dropping like flies, but still breeding like bunnies. We need to put political correctness aside and confront THIS problem. A hard cap on immigration and restarting third world family planning initiatives would help.

Comment posted September 27, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

Well said, Adam. Well said. Thanks for expanding my vision on the subject.

Comment posted September 30, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

This goes to show you. Most reporters do not pay. The attention badge I had on that day when I was getting my picture taken with Lou Dobbs is that of The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. Not the Minuteman Project. And I even gave David my card and it clearly had me as The Florida State Director of The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. I just had to say something here more and more people in the media are not paying attention. There is a big diffrence of the two groups

La Frontera Times – The Issue That Wont Go Away: Immigration
Pingback posted October 7, 2009 @ 4:57 pm

[...] most evenings on CNN. Conservative talk-radio hosts descended on Washington, D.C., last month for a “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” gathering, aimed at lobbying against “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. On the other [...]

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Comment posted August 4, 2010 @ 7:50 am

Want to do a little research on this? Google “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPPNA).” Or, just SPP. If you tend to think that our current political structure has the average citizen’s best interests at heart read the .gov sites. Otherwise, explore it further and try applying logic to the Fed’s actions.

Comment posted August 9, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

I like this article

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Comment posted August 29, 2010 @ 9:22 am

This is America.

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Comment posted September 12, 2010 @ 8:50 pm

I am impressed that one wing of the party would require proof of citizenship for health care, while another wing cannot accept proof of citizenship for the President. It was the Queen of Hearts that said “Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

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Comment posted September 27, 2010 @ 9:37 pm

Illegal immigrants(wanton disrespect for our immigration laws) endanger and elude our border patrol agents. Roll out the “red carpet” as a reward for succeeding. Quick pregnancy..American child…all kinds of benefits for poor American child…work harder American citizens your tax dollars are needed. What about the hard working American citizen who is taxed and cannot get benefits beause he earns too much.

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